Posts Tagged 'sports'

Top Trail Towns-Manchester-Trail Runner magazine

The September issue of Trail Runner magazine has been out in print for six weeks. The issue features eight “Top Trail Towns.” This year’s eight are: Bend, Oregon; Lynchburg, Virginia; Duluth, Minnesota; Revelstoke, British Columbia; Tucson, Arizona; Manchester, Connecticut; Deadwood, South Dakota; and Truckee, California.

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That isn’t a typo. One of my hometowns, Manchester, made the list. How? Well, it’s a short story. First, here is the link to the online version of the Manchester article that Meghan Hicks wrote. This link takes you to the directory/full story that she wrote.

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Back in February, the editors of Trail Runner posted a simple question on their Facebook page.

This is what it said, “We’re gearing up for our Annual Top Trail Towns feature—what are your choices for the best places to live and run trails?”

That sounded like an invitation for a comment, so I did. This is what I wrote:

“Anywhere in CT. 825+ miles of Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails maintained by Connecticut Forest & Park Association plus more are perfect for running. Great running communities and trail clubs too. Oh, and some awesome races including 30-year-old NipMuck Trail Marathon and 29-year-old Soapstone Mountain Trail Race. If you have to pick one of 169 towns, go with Manchester because it has the Hop River Rail Trail and an iconic 77-year-old classic road race that even the trail runners love!”

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233 other people commented with their nominations, and I forgot about my own comment until May, when Meghan, an ultrarunner extraordinaire/writer, reached out to discuss Manchester. Debbie and I had a fantastic phone call with  her, but we wanted to know more about her 2013 Marathon des Sables victory, so we talked about that first.

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When we got around to discussing Connecticut, we couldn’t stop gloating about our state. I grew up in Vernon/Rockville, Debbie grew up in Prospect, but Manchester is one town over from Bolton, where we live now, and has the bigger name. When you live in a state like Connecticut, you love all of the 169 towns, especially the ones that you run, hike, and bike in.

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I’ve always been suspicious of “top” lists. A west coast bias dominates the outdoor media and it bugs me. I was very pleased that Trail Runner selected Manchester to feature along with perennial favorites Tucson, Bend, and Truckee. I was even happier that Boulder didn’t make he list! I’ve actually been to four of these top eight, including three of them (Tucson, Truckee, and Manchester) in the past eight weeks. Heck, Porter Reservoir doesn’t look much like Donner Lake and Case Mountain isn’t Mount Lemmon, but we still have enormous beauty and culture too.

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Connecticut has the best darn trail network in the country. Every year, we lead the nation in National Trails Day events, and that is in real terms. If it was measured per capita, we would be so far out front, it would be a silly measure. Regardless, it isn’t about volume; quality is what matters and we have that too. Our trails are rugged and beautiful and very accessible.

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Meghan was able to only cover so much in a short magazine article, but we made the list and if you really want to know about Connecticut trails, then you have to read this blog every day! The Livingston’s are pumped to live on the Hop River Trail. We are glad that we have parks like Wickham to run in. We are blessed with awesome trails.

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I shot some photos for the story. Clubmates from the Shenipsit Striders were helpful. We spent some time at Case on a lovely summer evening. Two images were published, including one of Debbie and Carly Stroich-Eisly, but a handful of others are included in this post. They are just part of a trail story that is still being told…

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2013 Silk City Cyclocross

My cyclocross season kicked off today at the Silk City Cyclocross, the first race in the Connecticut Series of Cyclocross. It isn’t easy to transition from 5-10 hour races to 45 minute races, but I’m going to try. It will take me a few more races to figure things out and develop the fitness required for such intense efforts. I have to work on my bike handling skills too, but I’ve been doing cross for 18 years. It will come back.

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It was great to see so many friends at the race. Of all the cross races in New England, this is the closest cross race to my house, so I rode the eight miles to and from Manchester Community College, which is a fun venue. It was warm and dry, so the technical course was fast and dusty. Team Horst Engineering was well represented in both the Men’s 45+ and Men’s 35+ races. Matt Domnarski and Wade Summers had stellar results, taking first and second in the 45+.

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A second year tradition, the noon-time kids race was a blast for the little ones and both of our children did the 10 minute race on a short course.

Race Results (will be posted when available)

CCAP Connecticut Cycling Festival & Breakaway Benefit

Last spring, a group of dedicated cyclists led by Aidan Charles, hosted the Breakaway Benefit at Wesleyan College in Middletown, Connecticut. The benefit launched the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program. On the 22nd of September, CCAP will strike again, with the Connecticut Cycling Festival in downtown Hartford. This event promises to be a great success, with a criterium race, group ride, and expo. I love the fact that CCAP is fighting hard to expose youth to the benefits of cycling and that they are integrating their mission with ongoing revitalization of Hartford.

Connecticut is a great place to grow up riding. I started riding my first two-wheeler when I was three years old. I got my first serious bicycle when I was 12. It was a Shogun 400. My second serious bicycle was a 1986 Specialized Stumpjumper mountain bike, which I miss dearly. I was fortunate to pick up a pre-owned Richard Sachs road bike in 1989. My grandfather helped me save to buy a Spectrum Titanium road bike in 1992. I’m fortunate to be part of Team Horst Sports, Team Seven Cycles, HEAT, and so many other great groups that are part of the cycling community. I’ve ridden so many great bicycles over the years.  It’s been a love affair ever since I got that first one.

My cycling story is a lot longer than this quick summary. I was influenced by several factors and by many people who were already cyclists. Early on, I did touring and rode a lot with fellow Boy Scouts. In high school, my friend Craig Damaschi, was a cycling nut who had all of the mid-1980’s magazines. Craig had a classic Schwinn Paramount built by the folks in Waterford, Wisconsin. He also had a Schwinn High Sierra mountain bike, which would be worth a few bucks today. When Greg Lemond won the 1986 Tour de France, that was a big deal for me. I was running cross-country, but cycling became my true love.

At the time, mountain biking was emerging as a new kind of riding and I adored it too. I had some early heroes in that sport including Ned Overend and Steve Tilford, who were both Specialized riders. Incidentally, both are still going strong in their late-50’s. That Stumpjumper was a mean machine and I hammered it, but heck, I was a kid. I raced it hard at early NORBA and EFTA events in New England and met a different crowd of competitive cyclists. When I started at Boston University in 1990, I got involved with the cycling team.

By 1991, I was spending all of my free time on bicycles. I’ve been everywhere on my bicycles. I’ve raced all over the world. I spent the summer of 1994 racing the kermesse circuit in Belgium. I can’t believe that 2014 will mark 20 years since that summer. Teammates Jon Gallagher, Peter Brennan, and I saw the ’94 Tour de France finish on the Champs Elysee. Frankie Andreu was in a breakaway and came 2nd on the day. Who would have thought that Le Tour would be facing so much trouble in the years to come.  I made great friends on the Boston University and Boston College Cycling Teams. Thanks to Facebook, I stay in touch with Roger Nauth, Mark Johnson, Dave Fee, Laura Summers, and others.

In 1997, Arlen Zane Wenzel and I launched the Horst Engineering Cycling Team with a group of friends. Arthur Roti, Randall Dutton, and other are part of my inner cycling circle. 15 years later, we still love to ride and the team is still together today. The group has changed. Riders have come and gone, but those friendships are lasting, and bikes were our connection. Zane was one of Aidan Charles’ early mentors and in a role reversal, Aidan coaches Zane today. It was cool to watch Aidan speak at the benefit and share his own passion for cycling.

Mountain biking, road cycling, cyclocross, duathlon, adventure racing, triathlon…you name it. I’ve done more than 500 races involving a bicycle. I met Debbie at the 1999 Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run, thanks to the bicycle. Now, we enjoy riding with our children.

So, why my story?

It all came back to me as I was sitting there at the benefit dinner back in March and listening to the stories of others and how their lives have changed because of the bicycle. Stories of redemption. Stories of overcoming substance abuse. Stories of getting healthy again. Stories of glory.

Come to Hartford and experience our community’s passion for cycling. The Connecticut Cycling Festival is right around the corner.

Ride on!

2013 Kid’s Who Tri Succeed Triathlon

Today was our son’s third Kid’s Who Tri Succeed Triathlon. He first did it at five years old, and today he did it at seven. In its 8th year, this event is getting larger and larger. Nearly 150 kids between the ages of four and 14 competed in the race.

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Once again, Horst Engineering supported the event with sponsorship. The volunteers were great. Many of them were from our triathlon club, the Hartford Extended Area Triathletes.

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After last weekend’s Ironman, this was a nice low-key way to kick off the weekend. Seeing kids compete in a healthy discipline like triathlon brings a smile to your face.

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2013 Niantic Bay Triathlon

I did one of my favorite races today. The Niantic Bay Triathlon was the second triathlon I ever did back in 2002. I’ve done it each of the last four years for a total of five times, and it will likely remain a fixture on my summer calendar as long as I can motivate myself to keep competing.

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The course makes the race because it has a ton of character. I love ocean swims and they are rare, so given the opportunity to do one, I jump on it. The bike course winds its way on undulating roads through East Lyme, not far from our family’s beach house in Old Lyme. The run is through the Niantic beach community near McCook Beach & Park and the sand finish is unique.

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The Hartford Marathon Foundation has done very well with this race; 466+ solo athletes and 90+ relay athletes finished today. I had my second fastest time on the course, but I never felt great. I felt OK, but couldn’t get on top of my pedals and I felt like I had no oomph in the run. Sometimes you don’t feel good and you still go fast. Today was one of those days. I had my fastest bike leg and second fastest run and my second fastest overall time. The swim was…well, it was the swim. You can’t really do well in a sprint triathlon when you cede nearly three minutes in a 1/2 mile to the eventual winner. No matter how hard you ride and run, it’s an uphill battle that you won’t win.

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Like 2012, I did battle in the 40-44 age group with Ed Jensen. Ed is a super strong runner, but I still out-kicked him last year on the beach. This year it was a different story. I know he was gunning for me. He always stakes a lead on the swim, and his bike leg is getting better. This morning it took me longer to catch him, and I didn’t see him until T2. When he ran passed me coming out of transition, I have to admit that the wind came out of my sails. I was ready to rock the run, but when he surged by, I realized three things:  I was going to have to try to stick with him, it wouldn’t be easy, and it would hurt.

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Running is his forte, and over 3.4 miles, I figured he was probably 20 seconds faster. My prediction came true. I hung with him for a mile, but then he put 10 seconds on me before the turnaround and then he put 10 more on me. I never closed the gap though I could see him the whole way. Ed wasn’t going to crack in a short race like this, especially with all of his family watching. The 21 seconds he picked up on the run got him the age group win and he had the fastest run of the day. Chasing him got me the second fastest, so that was a bright spot.

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Ed did look back at least three times and I jokingly chided him for doing so after crossing the line. There were some fast guys out there today so despite the decent time, I was back in 8th place overall, which keeps my top 10 streak alive. We had a bit longer beach run this year because Superstorm Sandy severely damaged the bluff that was always a fixture in the final 1/4 mile of this race. We stuck to the roads before turning on to Crescent Beach for the last bit along the shore.

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It was great to see Team Horst Sports teammate Thom Reid and his wife Naomi both out on course. I was able to give Thom a low five on my way to the finish. He got stung by a jelly fish on the swim, but still pulled off a strong bike leg and finished well on the run. There were a lot of HEATsters out there too and we got the win with club-mate and super-strong masters triathlete, William Schumann, posting a 58:57. He was followed by Alexander Kowalsky and Brendan Mims. The first woman finisher was Elise Vonhousen in 1:07:08. She was followed by Susan Wines and Anna Kudej.

I used today’s race as a tune up for my big one in two weeks. I’ve got one more hard effort on Tuesday at the Winding Trails Summer Tri Series and then I’m tapering. I used my new shoes and cleats on their first ride today and thankfully everything worked. I also spent some time dialing in my gears and have just a little more work on my Seven Kameha to get it into top race shape. The HMF staff and volunteers (and there were a lot of them) were awesome and it was great to hear cheers from many of the spectators and fellow racers. The weather was the best I’ve experienced at this race with a mild temperature for the 7:30 A.M. start and bright sunshine. It was a good day.

Race Results

2013 Soapstone Assault

Last weekend’s race was exotic and we traveled a great distance for it. This weekend’s race was just as exotic, but much more familiar and a heck of a lot closer. The Soapstone Assault has been a mid-summer Shenipsit Strider tradition for a long time. Prior years’ posts cover the history and the story behind the Dipsea Race inspired handicap start.

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This weekend was a “recovery” weekend for the Livingston Family before the big August push. Debbie is definitely lying low, though she marked part of the course prior to the race. I donned a number and jogged the race just for fun and the kids helped with the markings and cleanup.

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It was great to see all of our Strider friends. So many of them have been busy with the Vermont 100 and other summer classics. Some of our other clubmates were at the Escarpment Trail Race in New York today and others were at Bear Brook Trail Marathon in New Hampshire.

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Those of us who stayed closer to home were treated to 5.5 miles of Soapstone fun in the humid air. It was cooler than it has been, but it was still a sweatfest. We welcomed some “outsiders” to our local trails and enjoyed fine post-race snacks including fresh mango, watermelon, brownies, bagels, and coffee. We even indoctrinated Eric Hale as our newest Race Director. Clint Morse (NipMuck Trail Marathon), Dave Merkt (NipMuck Trail Marathon), Ron Starrett (Old School Shenipsit Half Marathon), and Debbie (Soapstone Mountain Trail Races) are quite experienced and were all present to mentor.

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This was the perfect way to hit “reset” and chill for a day. Some folks don’t call running up Soapstone Mountain six times and running down five times relaxing, but it was for me. I may not be normal, so consult your physician before attempting this sort of thing without preparation.

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Brett Stoeffler owns this race and now that he is a 45+ codger he even gets a bigger head start thanks to our Dipsea friends. It was great to see Ken Clark on the trails and he was right there in the top three, along with Brett’s nephew, Conor Gagliardi. We missed Rich Busa, and he missed fantastic course markings. A hallmark of this race in the past was the challenging navigation. Rich always led the way in wrong turns taken.

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It will be sad to see July go when the calendar flips next week, but for now, let’s all hang on to this fine month a bit longer.

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Oh, NipMuck is still open and there isn’t a finer trail race in the east. This is the 30th (you read that right!) anniversary, so get your entry in ASAP!!

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Race Results (will be posted when online)

2013 Cayuga Trails 50

Saturday’s inaugural Cayuga Trails 50 was a really good event. We made the trip to Ithaca, New York so that Debbie could run the 50 mile trail race. The start/finish was at Robert H. Treman State Park, which was our home for the weekend. We drove up on Friday afternoon and camped 1/4 mile from the finish line, which was about as convenient as it gets.

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The race made use of the trails in the park and near the park. The course wound its way through several aid stations multiple times. The start/finish was blessed with an amazing playscape, so our kids and about a dozen other children were suitably entertained.

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For a first time race, Cayuga was promoted and produced very well. In 2014, this race will be the USATF 50 Mile Trail Championships. Race Director Ian Golden also promotes the Virgil Crest Ultras, so he is no rookie when it comes to holding a big event. He and his team of volunteers did a fine job of putting on Cayuga. He brought in loads of sponsors, which permitted an uncharacteristically large prize list for an ultramarathon. It wasn’t all slick production. He instilled some character in the race and even started the runners by blowing through a ram’s horn.

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That prize list attracted some top talent on both the men’s and women’s side. Part of the prize list was fueled by a grant from the local tourism board, which was a nice touch. It is great to see trail-blessed communities promoting trail running. Debbie wasn’t in the money, but I still support the prizes for those who were. The race still had the requisite apple pie prizes, but a little cash always helps a trail runner’s budget.

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Debbie struggled mightily, but kept plugging along and got to the finish in just under 10 hours. It was an emotionally and physically draining day for me with responsibility for both of our kids and crewing duties. I love to see her run up front, but she and I are both learning that juggling family, work, community, and athletic responsibilities is a challenge. I hit my 40 last year and she is approaching hers in 18 months and the days of focusing solely on sports are long gone. No excuses for either of us…I’m really proud that she found her way to the finish line, though I know she was hoping for better legs on a big day.

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The men’s race was very competitive with Sage Canaday winning in 6:47. He was followed by Matt Flaherty, Jordan McDougal, Brian Rusiecki, and Yassine Diboun. There were several other notables in the top 10, including long time friend and New England runner, Ben Nephew. In the women’s race, Kristina Folcik had yet another breakout performance, winning in 8:23 and finishing 12th overall. She was followed by Sandi Nypaver, Amy Rusiecki, Jessica Snyder, and Jacqueline Palmer.

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I was really impressed with Kristina’ s effort. She pushed hard and took over the lead when Cassie Scallon slowed after suffering what appeared to be a hamstring injury. Overall, I was impressed with all of the runners. There were some awesome age group performances right on up to 60+.

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The day dawned damp and muggy after heavy rain on Friday. It rained on and off throughout Saturday’s race and sections of the trails were waterlogged. The race had more than 10,000 feet of elevation gain and there was a mix of hard packed trail, rough paved trails, and rugged singletrack. Debbie said that the surface and terrain wasn’t as challenging as she expected, but it was still a tough course. The results show 133 of 164 runners finished.

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In addition to seeing Debbie at the start/finish (North Shelter Aid Station), we saw her at the Underpass Aid Station, Buttermilk Falls Aid Station, and Old Mill Aid Station. The race was a good one to spectate and the scenery was beautiful. I didn’t get deep onto the trails during the race, but on Deb’s recommendation, I got up early yesterday morning and ran the section of trail between North Shelter and Old Mill. That section on the Gorge Trail took runners past the impressive Lucifer Falls. It was spectacular.

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We saw a lot of friends this weekend and it was fun to hang out. Ryan Welts was crewing for Kristina, and we saw him at several aid stations. It was nice to catch up with him. Anthony Eisley was crewing for his wife, Carly, and it was nice talking to him. We hadn’t seen Amy and Brian Rusiecki in a while. Gary Hebert was there from the Shenipsit Striders. I got to meet Meghan Hicks in person. She was covering the event for www.irunfar.com. Last month, she spoke with Debbie and me via phone from her home in Utah as part of a project she is working on for Trail Runner Magazine.

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Meghan is a native up upstate New York and she came out to support this event. She spoke on a panel of ultrarunners as part of pre-race festivities that started earlier last week. We also got to hang out with our friend, Kelly Wilson. She met us in downtown Ithaca on Friday night at the race check in, then joined us for dinner at the Moosewood Restaurant. We had only been there once before, on a previous trip to Ithaca for the Finger Lakes Fifties. We had another great vegan meal.

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Yesterday morning, after my run, and more time at the playground, we took our kids back up to the Old Mill. We checked it out and learned all about the hydro-powered grain milling process from 150 years ago. Then, we did a loop that included the Rim Trail and Gorge Trail. We wanted to show the kids the mighty Lucifer Falls. They had a blast, and it helped that it was warm and sunny. After the hike, we loaded up the van and stopped back in downtown Ithaca. We had lunch and a monster dessert at Waffle Frolic, and then did some window shopping at a toy store. The road trip back to Connecticut was a relatively uneventful five-hour drive. All in all, it was another fun weekend.

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Thanks again to all of the volunteers and congratulations to the runners who tamed a new and difficult course.

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Race Results

Printroom Photos


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My daughter chose the hair piece, so I proved to her that I do have a sense of humor. #selfportrait
Great fun at today’s @minutemanrdclub #Cyclocross in Lancaster, MA. @horstcycling #horstcycling #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad @zanksscx @the_ccap
Great day at the #vermont50 🚵‍♂️🍁
Good morning! 🚴🏽
I got to sample the fun activities at Boy Scouts @troop25ct Camp Kirkham. I slept under the amazing stars. We had a full agenda of geocaching, archery, cooking, disc golf, and paddling. I even squeezed in a run to the top of Silver Mountain where I had a 360 degree view. #boyscouts
It was great fun cheering for the Bolton Center School XC Team and their coach @trailrunningmom at The Panther Fest. Go Bulldogs! #crosscountry #trailrunning 🏃🏽‍♀️ 🏃🏿
#carfreecommute #wickhampark
It’s easy to love the infamous water (muck) crossing at the Trails to a Cure (Cockaponset Trail Race). We felt like sea monsters! I can’t believe how out of breath I was after fetching my camera at the finish and running the 1/4 mile back to catch @trailrunningmom and Shepard make their crossings. Either hey are getting faster or I am getting slower! Maybe more swim-run is in our future. 🏊🏽‍♀️🏃🏽‍♀️ #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #blueblazedtrail #trailrunning
Good fun kicking off the 2019 #cyclocross season at the #QuadCross It was also the launch of the 2019 @zanksscx which is my prime CX objective. #crossisboss @horstcycling #horstcycling #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #crossspikes #sevencycles

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